Starting a
Letter of Recommendation

Starting a letter of recommendation in the right way is key to establishing the credibility of your recommendation. A good introduction immediately casts the candidate in a positive light. 

Image of close up computer keyboard with tab saying letter of recommendation

Your letter of recommendation introduction should do two things:

  • establish that the letter of recommendation is from a reputable person who is qualified to provide details of the individual's strengths, skills, experience and character
  • confirm that the individual has your full recommendation

Before starting a letter of recommendation

You need to take a few steps before your start writing the letter of recommendation:

1. Get details on what the individual is applying for

Ask the person for whom you are writing the recommendation to provide you with a copy of the job description, job posting, academic program, internship, leadership program or any other program for which the individual is applying.

2. Ask the applicant what to focus on in your letter of recommendation

Discuss with the applicant which details they would like you to highlight in your letter.

3. Ask the applicant for a copy of their resume

Read through the individual's resume to get a full picture of their credentials for the position or program they are applying for.

How to write a good letter of recommendation

Starting a letter of recommendation

Start with an appropriate salutation such as Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms.  Address the recipient by their name. If you do not know their name it is acceptable to use the generic "To Whom it may Concern"

The first paragraph of your letter of recommendation consists of:

  • a brief introduction of yourself including  your name and your position, if this is applicable to your relationship with the applicant.
  • a brief description of your relationship to the applicant and why you are qualified to write a letter of recommendation for them. This will usually include detailing how long you have known the individual and in what capacity.
  • your statement of recommendation to the effect that you are fully confident in recommending the applicant.

Starting a letter of recommendation - good examples

Letter of recommendation for an academic program

Dear Mrs Green

My name is Dr. Andrew Bell and I am a professor of (subject)in the department of (name of department) at (name of school). It has been my pleasure to teach Chris Jones for the last four years and to act as supervisor for his excellent thesis (Title of thesis). Chris's strong intellect and determination to achieve outstanding results make him an exemplary student and I can unequivocally recommend him for admission to the (name of academic program).

Letter of recommendation for an internship

Dear Mr Hall

My name is Dr. John Jackson and  I have known Jane for three years as both a student in my (subject) class and as a teaching assistant for the last year. Jane's drive and passion for learning have led to outstanding academic achievements and I can enthusiastically and with full confidence recommend Jane for the internship at (name of organization)

Letter of recommendation for internship

Letter of recommendation for a teacher

Dear Ms Lang

My name is  Glenda Grey, head of (subject) department at (name of school) and I have worked closely with Barry  in his position as (grade/subject) teacher for over 5 years. Barry's enthusiasm and energy together with his outstanding teaching skills make him a highly valued member of my department and I can fully and confidently recommend Barry Jones for your (type of teaching position) at (name of school).

Letter of recommendation for student teacher

To Whom It May Concern

Jenny Carr very successfully completed her 16 week teaching practicum in my (subject/grade) class at (name of school). Jenny's positive and conscientious approach to all her responsibilities made her a joy to work with and I can highly recommend her for a teaching position.

Student teacher letter of recommendation

Letter of recommendation for leadership program

Dear Mrs Green

My name is Frank Jones, Chair of (Name) Student Society and it is with enthusiasm and full confidence that I recommend Ann Black for the (Name) leadership program. Ann has been a key member of our society for the last 3 years during which time I have had many opportunities to observe her  outstanding leadership qualities.

Letter of recommendation for leadership

Letter of recommendation for employment

Dear Mr Brown

My name is Carrie Adams, I am the regional manager at (Name) Company and Mike Smith's direct supervisor for the last three years. Mike's outstanding work ethic, professionalism and high level of productivity make him a highly valued member of our team who I can fully recommend for the (job title) position at your company.

Letter of recommendation template

How to write a letter of recommendation

good letter of recommendation

Follow these steps to write a letter of recommendation that makes the right impact.

Closing a letter of recommendation

How you end your letter of recommendation is as important as starting a letter of recommendation.

Closing a letter of recommendation - tips and samples

closing recommendation letter

Strong adjectives for starting a letter of recommendation

Good adjectives to use in your opening paragraph include:

  • successful
  • accomplished
  • driven
  • outstanding
  • excellent
  • remarkable
  • impressive
  • skilled
  • determined
  • valuable
  • well qualified
  • committed
  • energetic
  • enthusiastic

Top 10 adjectives for a letter of recommendation

12 Core Competencies

List of Strengths

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